More than four years after the British voted to leave the European Union, the UK is again embroiled in another Brexit crisis – with a dramatic move by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to potentially rewrite parts of the divorce agreement. initial, sparking outrage and threats of legal action from EU leaders.
The UK formally left the blockade in January, after entering into a withdrawal agreement with the EU. in 2019. That technical departure marked the beginning of a transition period as the two sides worked out a free trade agreement for once the transition expired in late 2020.
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But as those negotiations stalled, Johnson̵
The deal included a Northern Ireland protocol that sought to prevent a hard land border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and Ireland (an EU member). The deal meant there would be some EU borders. regulations and controls for goods leaving from and to the rest of the UK from Northern Ireland. The new internal market bill would allow the UK government to override those rules if there was no free trade agreement.
Johnson, in an op-ed for The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, said the bill was in response to an E.U. it threatens to “impose a full-scale trade border along the Irish Sea” unless the UK agrees to its terms on a free trade agreement.
“We are told that the EU will not only impose tariffs on goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland, but they could actually stop the transport of food from the UK to the NI,” he said, adding that it was “vital. “that this option was closed.
The move has led to intense criticism in Britain, including from Johnson’s own party, which accuses the government of threatening to renounce an international treaty.
Sajid Javid, former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he will not vote in favor of the bill as “I cannot support the UK’s preventive denial” of the European Union. agreement. Former prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major have also spoken out against the move.
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Since the bill was presented for its second reading in the House of Commons Monday, Johnson sought to assure lawmakers that the powers in the bill were only a measure of last resort.
“I have absolutely no desire to use these measures,” Johnson said. “I’m an insurance policy.”
Ed Milliband, shadow affairs secretary of the opposition Labor Party, accused Johnson of “ruining the reputation of this country and destroying the reputation of his office.”
Due to the Conservative Party’s strong presence in the House of Commons, the bill passed into second reading, but 27 members broke with the party’s whips and abstained. The London Times reported that other Conservative MPs have warned that they will vote against the government and seek to change the legislation when it comes before a committee of municipalities next week.
The move sparked anger in both Brussels and Washington, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed concern that Johnson’s move could threaten the 1998 Good Friday peace deal. She said that if it did, she would not there would be “no chance” of a trade agreement between the US and the UK.
Johnson dismissed this claim, saying it is the EU’s interpretation that would undermine the Union and endanger peace in Northern Ireland, not the British response.
Should it become law, the E.U. threatened possible lawsuits against the UK After the crisis talks last week, the European Commission said that Vice President Maros Sefcovic had “reminded the UK government that the Withdrawal Agreement contains a number of mechanisms and legal remedies to address violations of the legal obligations contained in the text – which the European Union will not be shy to use “.
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Talks are expected to continue this week in Brussels, despite the controversy. Both sides said a deal needs to be agreed for next month, with Johnson threatening to pull out of the talks if a deal is not reached by mid-October.
Without a deal, tariffs and other restrictions will almost certainly be imposed by both sides early next year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.